Cable TV

Idiot and the Box! - Probir Roy

The road to a digital future ought to be paved with good intentions! Or so the powers that be would have liked to have it! But CAS at best is a regressive intermediate step - a step that should have ideally led India to a Brave New Digital World.

Digital Direct Broadcast Services (DDBS) is the end game for a Broadcaster. Satellite or terrestrial-based delivery of digital streams with addressability is dream state for media business moguls - the proverbial pay-as-you-go paradigm, versus the hitherto free rider phenomenon that we have got blissfully used to!

Primarily with CAS, one is taking away a service which has been free and unregulated for most of ten years, and then replacing it with the burden of a price and cost structure not quite of one's choice or making! Unlike in the US where the raison d'etre for Conditional Access (CA) based Pay TV (HBO; 1975) was its offer of premium and special fare, over and above the regulated basic tier of services!

However, with rollouts and adoption of delivery of entertainment and information services over wireline and ether viz DTT, DAB, xDSL, LMDS, Cable Modem etc, the acceptance of a digital Set Top Box (STB) as standard household appliance is fairly obvious in the next couple of years.

At the same time, the customer can't pay for and install a server rack of various STBs, Receivers and Customer Premise Equipment (CPEs) to cater for various technologies, operators and content providers when they roll out their services! Therefore a 'STB' would need to perforce follow some semblance of open standards, common interface, and interoperability across providers, and upward compatibility for two-way interactive broadcast and broadband service - what can be defined as a Universal & Integrated CA' (UiCA). One is yet to see such a 'standards and protocol' initiative by Consumer Groups, Industry or Government to address, no doubt, technical issues of 'inclusiveness of delivery' and 'gateway'.

Instead, analogue STB is being pushed for basic CAS compliance with the option for a digital regime. For quite the same value and enhanced functionalities (Ref: Earlier centerpiece article in Business Standard; 10 June 2002) a digital and integrated STB for direct satellite services could have led to significant benefits to over 40 million C & S, Internet, PC and Broadband homes.

The new I & B and Telecom Ministers may well find it worthwhile to at least initiate some dialogue and debate on this.

LOSERS AND SHAKERS!

The flip side being that an entire value chain of distribution as currently understood would be turned on its head. The MSO and mid and local tier partners would in essence be eliminated from the distribution chain in one fell swoop, not to mention cables criss-crossing trees, rooftops and streets! This disintermediation would dramatically change the economics and cost structure of the broadcasting industry in general, and C & S segment in particular.

Certainly CAS will be a boon (read boom!) for many players - members of CETMA for starters, and there will be short and long-term economies and diseconomies for others.

Purely from a Media angle, the understanding of CPM and CPRP may drastically change as channels move from free and un-accounted, to pay and addressed. The must-carry channels will show no change, but the scramble for the 'paid' channel will drive audience reach, share and rate cards. While the name of the game may move from advertising- sponsored business model and underutilized inventory to subscription-based models, broadcasters will be hard put to maintain high rates both for advertising and subscription rates. Advertisers hopefully will be smart enough to realize that its 30-second ad is not going to be seen across all the homes that they currently plan for!

There will be fragmentation of audiences and emergence of segmentation 'spin' in the hope that a lower reach will perhaps imply precision marketing, and therefore translate into premium rates! On the whole, Media planners will need to recreate new value propostion in a falling mass (and hitherto unregulated) 'one size fits all' viewership market in the transition period - from now to June 2003. The main Broadcasters not to be left out will go hell-for-leather to promote their own channel segmentation strategy, and ready their bouquets (and pricing!) to remain 'Prime', and literally get into the 6.7 million C&S urban viewers face!

Ultimately, no one wants to be the 'idiot' who is left out of the 'box'!

To my mind, the huge bonanza will be for the free-to-air or must carry-channels. They could recapture lost ground as they can technically show 38 million C&S homes, or 75 million TV homes as the case may be. Whilst Doordarshan may have lost out to the private players in the ad sales pie in spite of competitive TRPs tilting in their favour. If they can get their act together, this share is expected to increase.

NEXT STEP

Convergence is a nice enough concept in White Papers and to occupy several Government Committees and Task Forces, but difficult in practice. Especially with the various elements of 'convergence' in a constant state of flux on account of technological innovations and fickle consumer tastes, needs & aspirations which move faster than Moore's Law! One just had to be present at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas to realize that!

Convergence at best is practised at the ground level in initiatives such as ensuring single point access for multiple delivery systems, last mile operators' migration & financing plan, etc.

In the meanwhile, the onus will need to be on Advertisers and Consumer Groups to remain alert in the transition period. As research databases reconcile with a priori hypotheses and media planners, analysts and broadcasters recalibrate their 'go-to-market' strategies in a CAS-enabled world.

Probir Roy has worked in Govt, MNC Broadcast and Advertising Cos at senior operating positions. He is currently Chief Strategy officer & Managing Partner at Waygate Capital specializing in TMT sector clients & investments.

 

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/27/flash%20%281%29.jpg?itok=SP8CEa4P
Hathway Cable to debut Divine during Ganesh Utsav

MUMBAI: DTH service providers have been providing spiritual services to their subscribers for quite some time now. As have cable operators and MSOs who switch on coverage of local poojas during religious festivals and periods.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/26/Untitled-1_35.jpg?itok=aV38N5LG
Siti Network looks to raise $100 million

Essel group multisystem operator (MSO) Siti Network has plans to raise $100 million though an issue of securities and/or equity related instruments. The company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it needs the money to fund its operations. It has an ambitious plan to further expand...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/19/Untitled-1_4.jpg?itok=5SbRaNtY
Siti Networks says price revision benefits will accrue in second half

DAS paralysis in phase III markets is having an impact on Siti Networks (Siti Cable) performance. This was revealed by CEO V. D. Wadhwa to CNBC TV18 today.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/18/Untitled-1.jpg?itok=ULfulEhc
Hathway board clears GTPL IPO

Even as naysayers have been saying investor sentiment is pretty negative about the cable TV distribution sector in India, here is a company which is looking to swim against the tide. Cable TV and broadband internet services provider Hathway Cable & Datcom’s board today gave it the thumbs up to...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/16/Subhash%20Chandra.jpg?itok=yX8Ygq-I
Subhash Chandra's brothers step down as Siti Networks promoters

Mumbai: There’s change in the list of promoters at Siti Networks (earlier known as SitiCable). The national Indian MSO informed the Bombay stock exchange last week that - as part of a family arrangement and agreement - Jawahar Lal Goel, Laxmi Narain Goel and Ashok Kumar Goel along with their...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/16/SITI%20network.jpg?itok=-OCg_g0z
Siti Cable Network renamed as Siti Networks

MUMBAI: A new name brings in new vibes and possibly a new direction. At least that ‘s what the Essel group is aiming for if one goes by the name change it has resorted to at its national cable TV MSO Siti Cable. Last week, It informed the Bombay stock exchange, that it will be called Siti...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/12/Untitled-1_0.jpg?itok=ou2_KgVz
SNL Kagan says US cable TV will be robust despite decline in video

The naysayers have been making a cacophony of sound about the upcoming gradual squeezing out of life of the US cable TV sector. They have been citing the rampant cord-cutting, slimming down of bundles and the explosion in cheaper alternative OTT services as clear indicators that the countdown...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/09/cableTV.jpg?itok=fVGWf9Ae
GST: Both good and bad for the Indian cable TV sector

MUMBAI: India’s most ambitious indirect tax reform, the Goods and Service Tax (GST) got the green flag from the Lok Sabah on 8 August.

Cable TV Local Cable Operators
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2016/08/08/Hathway%20Connect.jpg?itok=mcHzoEo0
Hathway goes mobile with Hathway Connect

Hathway has taken its path breaking LCO portal- Hathway Connect to the next level by launching the Mobile APP version for its local cable operators (LCOs), which will further enhance and empower the operators in strengthening their business operations while “On The Move.”

Cable TV Multi System Operators

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories